A U.S. air strike is believed to have killed the leader of the Islamic State affiliate in Libya, Pentagon officials said on Saturday, in an attack that did not appear to be related to the terror attacks claimed by the group in Paris.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, in a statement, said the strike took place on Friday and targeted Wisam al Zubaidi, also known as Abu Nabil al-Anbari, who commands what is the Islamic State’s strongest branch ouside of Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The former Iraqi police officer was dispatched to Libya in 2014 by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to build up the group’s affiliate there.
Prior to going to Libya, Zubaidi was a senior Islamic State operative in Iraq.
A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the operation, said the strike involved American F-15 aircraft and was believed to have killed Zubaidi. He said the attack had been planned for some time.
The location of the strike within Libya was not immediately clear. Defense One first reported the strike on Saturday.